Conspiracy Theories and Stylized Facts
Journal for Peace and Justice Studies 21.2 (Fall 2011)
ABSTRACT: In an article published in the Journal of Political Philosophy, Cass Sunstein and Adrian Vermeule argue that the government and its allies ought to actively undermine groups that espouse conspiracy theories deemed “demonstrably false.” They propose infiltrating such groups in order to “cure” conspiracy theorists by treating their “crippled epistemology” with “cognitive diversity.” They base their proposal on an analysis of the “causes” of such conspiracy theories, which emphasizes informational and reputational cascades. Some may regard their proposal as outrageous and anti-democratic. I agree. However, in this article I merely argue that their argument is flawed in at least the following ways: (1) their account of the popularity of conspiracy theories is implausible, and (2) their proposal relies on misleading “stylized facts,” including a caricature of those who doubt official narratives and a deceptive depiction of the relevant history.
[NOTE: I have included extended excerpts below, believing this to be within the scope of fair use.]
Includes interviews with John Judge and David Ray Griffin:
"I first became aware of Cass Sunstein’s ideas for controlling conspiracy theories after seeing several ads for a web site called America.gov run by the State Department. It’s a complex, well-funded site with more avenues than I’ve cared to examine, but what caught my attention was the section under International Relations: Peace and Security called “Conspiracy Theories and Misinformation” with the astounding caption: “Conspiracy theories exist in the realm of myth, where imaginations run wild, fears trump facts and evidence is ignored.”
Read entire article here: http://dailycensored.com/2011/11/21/america-gov-cognitive-infiltration-a...
Book Review of Griffin's 'Cognitive Infiltration'
A Noble Lie: http://tiny.cc/4828d
I was recently interviewed on a public access TV show called "Vermont Today" (for 90 minutes). We discuss an exchange of letters between four concerned citizens (including myself) and NIST. Credit for the revealing NIST correspondence goes especially to Wayne Coste of AE911Truth for drafting our letters for us, and to Jerry Carpenter for taking initiative locally.
The discussion may seem to start off a bit slow, as we were trying to get some legal analysis from a local prosecutor who is now running for Mayor of Burlington. He takes a very diplomatic position, and then excuses himself. In the later parts of the interview we discuss Cass Sunstein's paper and my critique of it, as well as "foiled terrorist plots" led by informants. Near the end I also discuss Barry Jennings. The most significant part--the only part where really new information is presented--is the discussion of NIST's response to our letters (which starts around minute 25). It is the particulars of NIST's evasions that I think are very telling.
EXCLUSIVE: US Chamber’s Lobbyists Solicited Hackers To Sabotage Unions, Smear Chamber’s Political Opponents
.."A law firm representing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the big business trade association representing ExxonMobil, AIG, and other major international corporations, is working with set of “private security” companies and lobbying firms to undermine their political opponents, including ThinkProgress, with a surreptitious sabotage campaign".
Another article supportive of the 9/11 Truth Movement is published in a mainstream academic journal:
“Is Infiltration of ‘Extremist Groups’ Justified?” International Journal of Applied Philosophy 24:2, pp. 153-168. (Fall 2010). By Kurtis Hagen, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, SUNY Plattsburgh. (Yes. That would be me.)
Website for the International Journal of Applied Philosophy: http://secure.pdcnet.org/pdc/bvdb.nsf/journal?openform&journal=pdc_ijap
Unfortunately the article is not freely available, but here are some highlights:
ABSTRACT: Many intellectuals scoff at what they call “conspiracy theories.” But two Harvard law professors, Cass Sunstein (now working for the Obama administration) and Adrian Vermeule, go further. They argue in the Journal of Political Philosophy that groups that espouse such theories ought to be infiltrated and undermined by government agents and allies. While some may find this proposal appalling (as indeed we all should), others may find the argument plausible, especially if they have been swayed by the notion that conspiracy theories (or a definable subset thereof), by their nature, somehow or another, do not warrant belief. I will argue that Sunstein and Vermeule’s proposal not only conflicts with the values of an open society, but is also epistemically indefensible. In making my case, I will adopt their favored example, counter-narratives about 9/11. (p. 153)
It should be noted that, according to [Sunstein and Vermeule’s] definition, the notion that the Nazis were systematically exterminating Jews would have, at some point in time, clearly counted as conspiracy theory—one that turned out to be true. This is an important example. It shows that one cannot simply reject a conspiracy theory because it seems too extreme in the brutality it attributes to powerful figures, or because of the scale of complicity that would be required, or because of the industrial efficiency with which it is said to be carried out. Shocking though a theory may be, so too are known precedents. (p. 155)
Guns and Butter - "Cognitive Infiltration" with Tod Fletcher
January 26, 2011
Guns and Butter - "Cognitive Infiltration" with Tod Fletcher
We discuss David Ray Griffin's newest book, Cognitive Infiltration, which is a deconstruction and debunking of Obama appointee, Cass Sunstein's, paper, "Conspiracy Theories: Causes and Cures", in which Sunstein proposes a new government COINTELPRO type infiltration of groups which research and promote ideas and explanations that run contrary to US government narratives, most specifically about the events of September 11th. First aired in part on fund drive, today we air the entire show.
Although many people read the reviews of new books at Amazon.com, it's likely that most people stop reading reviews of a book after it has been out for a few months. But sometimes some of the best reviews have appeared late. I have here reposted three excellent recent reviews of David Ray Griffin’s “Cognitive Infiltration: An Obama Appointee’s Plan to Undermine the 9/11 Conspiracy Theory.”
A Case for the High Court, January 14, 2011
By Rev. Dr. Ronald David
Cass Sunstein is a highly regarded, pedigreed constitutional scholar and lawyer. He graduated from Harvard Law School magna cum laude, clerked for Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, and taught at arguably two of America's most prestigious law schools, the University of Chicago and Harvard. Mr. Sunstein is now the Adminisrator in the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) for President Barak Obama.
Cognitive Infiltration: An Obama Appointee's Plan to Undermine the 9/11 Conspiracy Theory
Review of David Ray Griffin's Book
The Principles of Democracy: A Shocking New Low in Official Comprehension
David Ray Griffin v. Cass Sunstein
by Stephen Lendman
Griffin is Professor of Philosophy of Religion and Theology, Emeritus, Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA where he's still co-director of the Center for Process Studies.
He's authored and/or edited three dozen books, mainly in his field, but notably and heroically on 9/11 truth, Osama bin Laden, and his newest titled, "Cognitive Infiltration: An Obama Appointee's Plan to Undermine the 9/11 Conspiracy Theory." More on it below.
Cass Sunstein is a well-known University of Chicago and Harvard Law School Professor before being appointed Obama's Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, in charge of "overseeing policies relating to privacy, information quality, and statistical programs," among other duties.
On September 10, filling in for David Ray Griffin at his request, I was interviewed by MistrBrit, a featured radio host at Freedomizer Radio:
MistrBrit also maintains a very popular channel at YouTube, where you can check him out. Lots of 9/11-related reporting there; don't miss it.
MistrBrit really knows his facts, and gave a lot of credit to Griffin's work. It was a wide-ranging discussion of important 9/11 issues, including Griffin's new book Cognitive Infiltration, his previous book The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7, the new 9/11 truth professional organizations, physical evidence for demolition, the earliest period of the 9/11 truth movement, and many other topics.
The audio has been enhanced by carefully selected video clips pertaining to each topic as it is discussed, and posted at YouTube as a five-part video series, by SpreadThisInfo2. Check out his channel at
Here are the links to the five parts:
Dear 9/11 Truth Community,
As many in the 9/11 truth community know, David Ray Griffin has been in the hospital. He is recovering from major back surgery and serious complications from it. He will recover completely and be able to return to the cause, but his recovery will require a rather long time. At present he needs rest and therapy and he is not able to do the many things that he would be doing were he well.
One of his main concerns right now is that his new book, Cognitive Infiltration: an Obama Appointee's Plan to Undermine the 9/11 Conspiracy Theory, successfully make the impact that it should. As many in our community already know, it is a response to legal scholar (and now Obama appointee) Cass Sunstein's highly deceptive argument for a new Cointelpro-like operation to be directed against the 9/11 truth movement. Griffin utilizes all his own remarkable capabilities to thoroughly deconstruct and expose the fraudulent nature of this prominent legal scholar's call for an illegal operation. Griffin's book was just published, at the beginning of September, and there hasn't yet been time for many to have read it.
Shortly after taking office on January 20, 2009 President Obama appointed Harvard law professor (and personal friend) Cass Sunstein to the post of administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. In June 2009 Sunstein published an essay in The Journal of Political Philosophy entitled "Conspiracy Theories: Causes and Cures," in which he provided an "analysis" of conspiracy theories, viewing them, as his title indicated, as "caused" by psychological conditions and requiring "cures", i.e., elimination. The article led to an outcry by civil libertarians of all political stripes, who especially singled out for protest Sunstein's call for covert "cognitive infiltration" by government agents of organizations the government deems "conspiracist".
(I'm bolding the part which was news to me as I read it. - Adam)
David Ray Griffin comes to Drake University on April 23 to tell us why the official explanation for the 9/11 attack on the United States doesn't hold water.
A theologian, philosopher of religion and professor emeritus at California's Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Graduate University, Griffin has been at it for about seven years now and says he won't stop until the government conducts a new, impartial, independent investigation.
As opposed to the 9/11 Commission probe. He calls that exercise a charade.
Griffin has written eight books on the subject with another on the way: "Cognitive Infiltration: An Obama Appointee's Plan to Undermine the 9/11 Conspiracy Theory."